The last uncontacted tribe in South America outside the Amazon is holding out in an ever-shrinking island of forest, as bulldozers clearing land for cattle ranchers rapidly close in on them.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has ordered Paraguay to protect the Ayoreo’s land, but well funded ranching operators are now clearing forest, bulldozing roads, putting up cattle fences and even constructing huge reservoirs for livestock.
It’s all illegal, but the government shows little interest in enforcing the law. The situation of the tribe, known as the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode (“people from the place where there are many peccaries”) is now critical.
Most Ayoreo-Totobiegosode people were contacted by missionaries in a series of notorious manhunts some decades ago in which several Ayoreo were killed. The survivors were forced out of the forest, but some of their relatives have managed to remain uncontacted, and want to continue living in their forest home.
“Unless our lands are protected, our uncontacted relatives who want to stay in the forest will soon no longer be able to survive there,” says Orojoi, a Totobiegosode leader.
For more than 25 years, Survival has campaigned for the Ayoreo’s land rights, and part of their land has now been protected.
We need friends and allies around the world to pressure the Paraguayan authorities into enforcing the law and protecting all the tribe’s territory from further destruction.
Unless immediate action is taken, the prospects of the remaining uncontacted Ayoreo-Totobiegosode are bleak.
Please email Paraguay’s vice-President and the head of Indigenous Affairs, urging them to act now.